STEM has been a hot-button topic in education for a while now, but what does the acronym mean? It stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The four job fields are closely related because they share a lot of similar subject matter. An initiative has been in place since the Obama administration to encourage American kids, especially girls, to become involved in the professions.
The National Science Foundation has stated in the past that a failure to remain competitive in these fields in the United States could impact its economic future. All four fields are predicted by the United States Department of Commerce to flourish at a quicker rate than other non-STEM professions. Schools across the nation have placed a strong focus on STEM education to encourage interest in these fields.
For a long time, these four fields have not attracted a lot of women. Young women entering college typically avoid these majors even though in elementary school many are excited by science, technology, engineering, and math. By high school, many of these classes are dominated by male students. With the growth in these fields and an estimated number of job openings, educators have been working hard to attract young girls to the field by bringing STEM activities into the classroom.
Parents can do the same at home by encouraging girls to develop a love for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. One of the best ways for girls to develop an interest in these subjects is through play. Thankfully, there are a lot of cool STEM toys for girls that go a long way in stimulating curiosity, problem-solving, and creative thinking in kids. Here’s our list of the top STEM toys for girls of all ages.
A STEM toy can be as simple as a set of building blocks. Blocks are an essential component of cognitive development and can spark an interest in science, math, and engineering principles at an early age. Building blocks can be a playroom staple from the toddler to teen years.
Rube Goldberg Machine
Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist. His cartoons often depicted Professor Butts using a crazy machine to do a simple task like washing a dish or using a napkin. Over time, a Rube Goldberg Machine has come to describe an overly complicated chain-reaction device. Think Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Designing a Chaos Tower is a lot of fun and an ideal STEM toy for tweens and teens.
People have long been fascinated with building robots to do chores, and kids love them, too. Designing solar-powered robots with the Elenco Teach Tech Solar Bot combines science, technology, mathematics, and engineering all in one amazing toy.
Girls as young as 8 can get an introduction into coding with a Programmable Rover from SmartLab. Already assembled, kids learn how to program the rover to do different tasks like carry a drink to the table.
See the stars
Introduce your daughter to the wonders of the universe with a telescope. The science behind the telescope is interesting in itself, but once it is put to use, girls get a chance to see the stars and planets up close. NASA’s website offers instructions on how to build your own, but there are several designs on the market to choose from that are well-suited for kids of all ages like the FMG Portable Refractor Telescope.
Planning and maintaining a backyard flower or vegetable garden is a family-friendly STEM activity. Gardening is more than putting seeds in the ground, and getting kids involved at a young age develops interests in horticulture and botany. Make it more fun by getting kids their own gardening tools and gloves like these from INNOCHEER.
Magnify an interest in science by getting your little girl a microscope. Microscopes are surprisingly simple to operate, and many are geared just for kids. GeoSafari Jr.’s Talking Microscope is great for 4-year-olds. Kids can use premade slides or examine things in their own backyards like dirt, leaves, seeds, and more. When your future scientist gets older, upgrade the microscope.
Chemistry is more than making a homemade volcano erupt with vinegar and baking soda. Kids can get hours of enjoyment all while exploring the wonders of science with a basic chemistry set like this one from Thames and Kosmos. Most chemistry sets come complete with experiment instructions and all the essentials to mix together some pretty cool reactions.
It may not seem like it when parents are the ones making all the meals, but cooking is another family-friendly STEM activity. There is science and math in the kitchen, and getting kids interested in cooking can launch into a lifelong love as well as a possible career. Help foster the desire with kid-friendly cooking utensils like these from MasterChef Junior.
For young girls with a curiosity of how things work, the Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration kit Snap Circuits Jr. Electronics Exploration kit is a must-have. Perfect for 8 years and up, kids can safely design working electrical circuits to power a flashlight and more. The kit includes 30 circuits and instructions for over 100 projects.
From cooking to gardening to exploring the night sky, STEM education is present in everyday life. Getting girls excited about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a snap when you bring STEM toys into the equation. When girls grow up immersed in STEM activities, they tend to be more interested in the subjects in high school, which may lead to a desire to continue those studies at the college level and beyond.
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